October 13 - 15, 2020
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel
The CPO's Corner
How can I begin to work with new and innovative suppliers?
Its likely that your IM pings all day with questions, ideas, complaints and direction from your internal stakeholders about the vast landscape of digital options. It’s even more likely that as your firm’s digital strategy develops there will be a gap between the capabilities of your existing suppliers and the needs generated by the future strategy of your company.
How do you deal with this? How do you introduce new suppliers when you’ve come to rely on the consistency from your current suppliers, even developed close relationships with them? How do you disrupt that comfort level and introduce some risk?
Some thoughts here:
- The new technology players in the supplier community are often small and adaptable. To grow their businesses, they are often willing to adopt a “try before you buy” approach whereby prospective clients can test out their services before signing up for the full package. There’s a lot more flexibility here than we’re used to, and we should be taking advantage of the emerging ability to road test the new technology we want to bring in. Not only does it help us make the best decision, it enhances employee engagement.
- Speaking of employees, you can’t do this alone. Every change carries a bit of trauma, so anything you can do to increase the number of employees who participate in the process and thus have a stake in the outcome, the better the new supplier will be received.
- Engage your CFO early-on. One of the biggest obstacles I’ve seen are CFO’s who can’t wrap their heads around the fact that a startup may have the right solution for their business. They are used to applying rigor to the supplier evaluation process, and can be uncomfortable when a supplier is operating in the red or doesn’t have a ten year history to show. If that’s the environment you’re operating in, begin communicating early on and make sure that your CIO is bringing the CFO on the journey… or there is enough support from other members of the executive committee.
As the pace of change increases, it is logical that the pace of supplier change will increase as well. We have to prepare for that by taking these steps and recognizing that a more frequent disruption of your supplier base may very well be the best thing for the business.
Joanna Martinez is a global procurement / supply chain leader and the founder of Supply Chain Advisors LLC. She is a frequent lecturer and blogger on procurement topics and also provides coaching, strategy development, training, and cost reduction opportunity assessment. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to technology startups.
As either regional or global CPO, Joanna has led transformation initiatives for companies in many different sectors: among them Johnson & Johnson (consumer products), Diageo (beverage), AllianceBernstein LP (financial services) and Cushman & Wakefield (real estate services, property management). She has also held client-facing roles, effectively giving her the opportunity to “sit on both sides of the table”.